Hit or Miss!

I came across this anecdotal story this weekend (in The magic of Metaphor by Nick Owen):

Thomas Edison: A strategy for genius

Thomas Edison took a long time to invent the first light bulb. Rumour has it that he made over 2000 experiments to perfect it.

At the press conference to launch his new invention, a pushy journalist put the knife in: “Say, Mr Edison, how did it feel to fail to make a light bulb two thousand times?”

“Young man,” said Edison, “I didn’t fail to make a light bulb two thousand times; I merely found one thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine ways how NOT to make a light bulb.”

This then reminded me of a Donald Swann and Michael Flanders sketch which I loved as a child (I have it on CD somewhere), which went something like this:.

“Uncle was an inventor. He invented a drink and he called it One Up.

Sadly this failed.

So he had another go and called it 2Up.

This wasn’t too popular either. So he created a new drink which he called 3Up.

This also failed to hit the spot.  So he had another go and called it 4Up

But no luck

So on he went.

He called his final drink 6Up.

Then he gave up.

Shame!”

13 thoughts on “Hit or Miss!

  1. The talent of invention is to know when an idea is pointless (like perpetual motion) and when it’s going to work somehow sometime some way (for example, a light bulb). It’s the difference between slight insanity and persistence. It’s not always easy to tell the two apart!

  2. Mmm, interesting perspective. Applied to my love life though, I do hope I haven’t a couple thousand attempts to get through before I manage a relationship that works! 😉

  3. Intersting post and a story I know well. What’s important is to know what you want, why you want it!

    Emotional involvement in where you want to go has to be stronger than the emotional involvement in where you have come from.

    This takes vision and courage because everyone gets it wrong. Its just the successful people embrace this as learning the unsuccessful see it as more failure.

    This focus on failure engages more of their fears. Now they are stuck.

    • Also, surely, not to give up until you’ve exhausted all possibilities!

      And of course that means until you succeed! Because if you give up before you might have been one away from success.!

      So athough I still get days when I feed myself bad stuff nostalgic stuff wishing things hadn’t happened stuff I know that to succeed I need and will focus on my future and all that it can give me and the only way to do that is to continue to ‘battle’ my sub-conscious which is doing this to me!!

      And having a goal I care passionately about is definitely making a massive difference.

      By going for this goal I hope I can help others in some small way to see and experience a better future than their current today.

  4. When i lay goals out in front of me, i have “mini-milestones” along the path and when i don’t reach a minimilestone, i make a pathway decision, re-engage the milestone or go around it until I hit goal using another attainable set of milestones. I knew i wanted to be in the caribbean and own a life I would be proud of….took a lot of rearranging and finding out what I’m capable of doing… I’m not just proud of the amazing life and adventures i enoy, I know God knows how much I appreciate his belief that i would love my life… now back to living…

    your pirate…

    T.

  5. Most of the inventions that we now take for granted were, at one time, ideas in a science fiction novel or story. I remember reading a book called Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 by Hugo Gernsback sometime in the 1960’s. Two ideas that I remember which seemed to be close to impossible at that time were mentioned in his book; moving sidewalks and arenas with lighting that turned night to day. Maybe inventors who give up turn to science fiction writing? Or maybe those inventors look to science fiction novels for their ideas.

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